Give and You Shall Receive

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: Internships are important. According to YouTern, “9 out of 10 direct-from-college hires to go those with internship experience on their resumes.” Employers that I talk with tell me that they look for candidates with related experience, the kind typically gained through internships.

You know that an internship benefits you. But have you ever thought about how an internship benefits an employer? Start thinking about it if you want that internship or if you want to be a successful intern.

Thank you Card

When Applying for an Internship…

  • Your resume is about you, but not really about you. Yes, your resume and cover letter provide details on your skills and experiences that qualify you for the internship. But when it comes to crafting your resume, it should speak to an employer’s needs. For example, let’s say you are applying for a PR Internship and you’ve already had some PR experience (like a previous internship). Instead of lumping that PR experience into a general “Experience” section with all of your other jobs, break it out into a “PR Experience” section. Help the reader clearly see that you have the experience they’re looking for.
  • Be careful with those Objective Statements. More often than not, I read Objectives on students’ resumes that are all about themselves: “To obtain an internship that allows me to gain experience, use my communication skills…blah, blah, blah.” If you are going to use an Objective Statement on your resume, keep it simple: “To obtain the ______ Internship with ________ (name of organization).” Don’t go into a long diatribe about what the internship will do for you.
  • The same goes for that cover letter. Just as with your resume, your cover letter is about you. However, the letter is about you in the context of what you bring to the table. How will your background benefit the employer? Have you worked in a similar environment? Have you done similar work successfully in the past?
  • Don’t forget to send a thank you note. This one should be self-explanatory. If you have an interview, make sure to follow up with a thank you note. Thank the interviewer for his/her time. Incorporate elements from your conversation, something that highlights what you will bring to the position. Showcase your appreciation for the opportunity and a genuine interest in their organization and the position.

During Your Internship…

  • There is never nothing to do. So, you finished all of your assigned work for the day. Do you sit back and relax until it’s time to leave? No, you don’t. Ask your co-workers if they need any help. Look around you for a new project to tackle. Work ahead on existing projects. Bottom line: Do something.
  • Be grateful for the opportunity. Not everyone does an internship before they graduate. For some, this might be by choice. For others, opportunities don’t pan out. Either way, you are fortunate for having the opportunity to work in a professional setting doing the work you want to do when you graduate. So, say thank you. Do small things like providing a co-worker a recommendation on LinkedIn. Share your great experience with others, such as through our Intern of the Month feature.

Yes, an internship will provide you with experience that boosts your resume and makes you a marketable candidate. But as an intern, you are there to do something for that employer, too. The right frame of mind, hard work, and gratefulness will pay off in your favor big time!

Photo by Jon Ashcroft

Giving Thanks for Your Internship

thank you note for every language

I’m still basking in the glow of Thanksgiving (Respect the Bird!). So in the spirit of a holiday built around giving thanks for what we have, let’s talk about showing gratitude for your internship experience.

If you have been interning this fall, you are getting close to the end of your experience. There are plenty of things to do as you wrap up your work, one of which is saying thank you. How can you show your thanks as you exit your internship? Here are some ideas.

  • Say It. It’s simple – Say thank you to the people you have worked with over the last few months. Obviously, you should thank your supervisor for his/her guidance. Were there other people you worked with directly or people you came to know well? Thank them, too, for their support.
  • Write It. While it’s important to say thank you in person, it can be a thoughtful gesture to write thank you notes as well. Career Counselors tell students to write thank you notes after interviews (although despite the ubiquity of the advice, not many do it), but thank you notes apply in many more situations. You don’t have to write a dissertation. Just write a short, simple thank you to the people you connected with at your internship. Beyond the basic “thank you,” write about how you are grateful for the experience and how that individual helped make your experience a good one.
  • Show It. This is an optional one in my book, and it should never be an expectation. But if you’re the type who likes to bake or if you work with colleagues who enjoy celebrating with food, consider bringing treats at some point during your final week. If baking or cooking isn’t your thing and you’d still like to bring in something, you could bring doughnuts or bagels to kick-start everyone’s workday.

When people have taken the time to guide and mentor you as an intern, it is only right to show your appreciation. Small gestures go a long way in making a good impression, and leaving on a positive note is the best way to wrap up your internship.

Photo from woodleywonderworks

Keep Internships In Mind This Thanksgiving

'Eat Ham' Turkey

A couple of weeks ago, for my regular gig as contributor to the Student Branding Blog, I wrote about personal branding to-dos for the month of November. Let’s face it. Once we hit Thanksgiving, it’s all downhill. The fall semester will whiz by in a blur.

In the spirit of good time management, I boiled my post down to three areas to focus on for the remainder of the semester. From my perspective, these three points strongly connect to the internship search process. So instead of re-writing what I’ve already said, I would encourage you to check out my Student Branding Blog post and apply the strategies to your internship plans.

And in a blast from the UW-Whitewater Internships Blog past…

Photo from richcianci